Seven-Year-Old Girl Accuses LEGO of Sexism

Josh Engen

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Seven-Year-Old Girl Accuses LEGO of Sexism



Charlotte Benjamin, a seven-year-old from the UK, has written a firmly worded letter to LEGO headquarters.

Charlotte Benjamin is a seven-year-old girl from the United Kingdom who has a soft spot for LEGO blocks. Unfortunately, since LEGO traditionally focuses on its dude-infested fan base, groupies like Charlotte are left in the lurch. But, while most little girls would simply refocus their attention on another toy, Charlotte is asking LEGO to repent.

"I don't like that there are more Lego boy people and barely any Lego girls," she writes in a firmly worded letter to LEGO. "I want you to make more Lego girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun. OK!??"

Over the last few days, Charlotte's letter has become a minor phenomenon on Twitter and other social networks. So far, it has been shared and retweeted [https://twitter.com/SocImages/statuses/428264365943316480] over 3,000 times, but that's probably just the tip of the iceberg.

LEGO hasn't responded with the apologetic acknowledgment that Charlotte probably would have liked, but Emma Owen, a spokeswoman for LEGO UK did address the issue. "In general we believe that LEGO play appeals to children of both genders and all ages," she said. "Building with LEGO bricks fosters the creativity of children which is why it's our mission to offer any child - regardless of their age, gender or interests - a relevant LEGO play experience."

Owen added: "We have a variety of female minifigures in our assortment."

Source: Independent [https://twitter.com/SocImages/status/428264365943316480/photo/1]

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Headsprouter

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We had an article year or so ago just like this, didn't we? Something like this...

Either way, it's still cute. But I can't help think of how Minecraft changed their player pain sound to a bone crunch to make it more gender-neutral.

Her spelling's pretty impeccable.
 

Legion

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"In general we believe that LEGO play appeals to children of both genders and all ages," she said. "Building with LEGO bricks fosters the creativity of children which is why it's our mission to offer any child - regardless of their age, gender or interests - a relevant LEGO play experience."
My God even Lego has politicians.

They should have just done the cool thing and made her a custom girl Lego figure or something, that's how you come out of it looking good.

My favourite part of the letter was "I want you to make more Lego girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun. OK!??". It's a funny mix between angriness and cuteness.

Headsprouter said:
Either way, it's still cute. But I can't help think of how Minecraft changed their player pain sound to a bone crunch to make it more gender-neutral.
Better than Terraria.

The guys sound like they are doing something between sneezing and coughing while the girls sound... excited.
 

Shamanic Rhythm

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This girl speaks the truth. What Lego girl figures exist are mostly sold in sets that resemble hideous pastiches of Barbie and Bratz, where you get to enjoy such exciting things as brushing their hair or riding ponies.

Outside of that, the only time you see them are as housewives in the city sets, or as licensed characters in the various trademarks Lego is milking. Chances of finding a female cop, pirate or astronaut are practically zero.
 

rasputin0009

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Yes, let's use the word "groupies" to describe a seven-year-old girl in an article about sexism. Because the word "groupie" is so respectful and appropriate to call female fans.
 

Scarim Coral

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While she does the rise a good point (the toy store over here have a huge section for Lego boys while the girl only get two shelfs) but isn't the whole point with Lego is that you can build anything with it as long you got the imagination? In saying so I don't think she will be content with just using the bricks from the boy Lego but an actually equality for both audiences.
 

Eternal_Lament

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Maybe this is just me being old (at 22), but wasn't the whole appeal of LEGOs that you could mix-and-match? You could create entirely new characters by simply switching heads. Want a female cop or scubadiver? Just put a female head on the cop body and there you go. If you're just playing with LEGOs as they are advertised on the set, that onus is on you, not the company

Maybe the marketing behind it is something to consider, but I'm not sure that's LEGO's fault so much as it just is how all toys are marketed. At least with LEGO, they can be played in such a way that they can still appeal to any child of any gender, so at least the actual "play" aspect isn't necessarily compromised in any way.

Also, does anyone find it interesting that this happens the same week the LEGO movie comes out?
 

Therumancer

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It seems to me that Lego has attempted to cater to girls over the years, at the end of the day though it all comes down to sales. I think that with this kind of thing, the problem is less a matter of the product not having been available, and reinforced gender stereotypes, so much as it not selling on it's own so manufacturing hasn't kept up.

I'll also go so far as to say that I'm pretty sure there have been female lego minifigs including queen and princess figures for the castle set, and pirate girls for the pirates sets (indeed I think an old issue of Dragon Magazine or Polyhedron had some quick rules for turning lego pirates into a sort of quick-play wargame, the female figures were used as the primary ranged attack/pistol packing units, it's been a long time though).

At any rate, my basic input here is that if people think this is an issue, those of you who are parents should consider buying your daughters more legos, once you spend money (and lots of it) it will encourage the company to produce products for the consumer base that already exists.
 

HBaskerville

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This should read : "7 year old girl's PARENTS accuse lego of being sexist." Kids don't see these distinctions unless their parents put those thoughts into their heads. Every modern theme has male and female minifigs. This whole thing smacks of a busy-body parent with time on their hands and their nose out of joint.
 

Kuala BangoDango

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I always find these articles funny that make it sound like the kid is doing something important and amazing when it's obviously the parents behind the scenes pushing them along.

Like when "9 year old discovers new star, star to be named after the child! Oh, and by the way, the kid's dad is world famous renowned astronomer with access to a super-telescope but we're sure the dad was in no way involved with locating the star and pointing the kid in it's direction to "discover"."

More than likely the girl made an off-handed comment in the store about wishing there were more girls in the kits and her mother saw a way to make her daughter famous.
 

Nimzabaat

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From what I recall; City Lego has a lot of genderless characters and a lot of the licensed product (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings, The Lone Ranger) is restricted to characters seen on screen (though SWTOR Lego has some female characters). On the other hand, Lego Marvel and DC aren't doing a lot to bring in female characters from those properties. The Lego Marvel sets that aren't tied into the movies don't have any female characters in them and there's a lot to choose from.
 

Ed130 The Vanguard

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Good grief, back when I received Lego for my birthdays I was lucky if there were any minifigs, all with that smile...


it stares into your soul...

M-Tron warships (in my mind at least), Octan Petrol stations, all minded by Smiley McGee and co.

While modern faces are more detailed it doesn't matter much with figurines that are gender neutral apart from aforesaid heads.

It isn't that hard to swap heads, its what my sister did with her Knights Castle set (which had a female knight anyway).
 

Something Amyss

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Blunderboy said:
Are they boys? Or are they genderless?
Oooooh.
If they're genderless, why are there (admittedly few) girl minifigs in the first place? And why so few in the playsets based on actual franchises? Why are there sets for girls with girl figures?

Headsprouter said:
We had an article year or so ago just like this, didn't we? Something like this...
I don't know about that, but about a year ago there was a tantrum on the forum because someone discovered Anita Sark...She who must not be named lest she come and consume your male privilege....Her videos on Lego and rather than a cogent argument on the points she brought up chose basically to complain about how evil and feminist she was.

Legion said:
My God even Lego has politicians.
They should. They've been making the same stump speeches for like 20 years.

The guys sound like they are doing something between sneezing and coughing while the girls sound... excited.
Isn't that fairly typical of games, though?

Zombine3D said:
Or, you know, you put a female looking head on a gender-less body.
Since he's talking about the ones where the minifigs are another size (Lego friends), no you can't. There is a limited amount of compatibility, but the head is not one (according to a lot of Google hits, at least...I don't own any Lego of either variety)

Scarim Coral said:
While she does the rise a good point (the toy store over here have a huge section for Lego boys while the girl only get two shelfs) but isn't the whole point with Lego is that you can build anything with it as long you got the imagination? In saying so I don't think she will be content with just using the bricks from the boy Lego but an actually equality for both audiences.
Eternal_Lament said:
Maybe this is just me being old (at 22), but wasn't the whole appeal of LEGOs that you could mix-and-match? You could create entirely new characters by simply switching heads. Want a female cop or scubadiver? Just put a female head on the cop body and there you go.
Well, you can mix and match, yes. Of course, you need to buy a lot of pink and purple just to get those girl minifigs in the first place (which as I noted above don't have completely compatible bodies in the first place), and if you want other colours you need more sets. This seems like a stupid expense to get what you want. There are also minifig packs but they appear to all be blind packs, and I don't know if there are even any girls in there. Further, the selection is usually very limited.

Finaly, to the whole imagination thing, a lot of the pieces for those "for girls" sets are details like flowers, cookies, etc. There's a lot of waste there if you just want the blocks. The point of the playset is slightly different than the point of a tub of Legos. Why should it be girls' fault for not wanting the same type of experience boys get out of the box?
 

Something Amyss

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HBaskerville said:
This should read : "7 year old girl's PARENTS accuse lego of being sexist." Kids don't see these distinctions unless their parents put those thoughts into their heads.
So girls don't want to go on adventures unless it's drilled into them?

Kuala BangoDango said:
More than likely the girl made an off-handed comment in the store about wishing there were more girls in the kits and her mother saw a way to make her daughter famous.
Yes, because shares on twitter equal fame and are both easy and reliable to predict. Seems legit.
 

busterkeatonrules

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Several people mention the possibility of swapping heads. Just wanted to add that it's actually possible to just buy a load of 'female' - style heads from Lego's own website! Just find any set that includes at least one decidedly female minifigure, punch its order number into the 'missing parts' menu, find the head on the list and order as many as you want!
 

An Ceannaire

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Slow news day, huh?

The only gender definitive things on most mini-figs is their hair and face. Some have breasts, but bringing those into the discussion is just opening another tin of worms.
 

IceStar100

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An Ceannaire said:
Slow news day, huh?

The only gender definitive things on most mini-figs is their hair and face. Some have breasts, but bringing those into the discussion is just opening another tin of worms.
As the old saying goes damned if do damned if you don't. I'm just amazed this is a thing It's lego. Maybe I should wright a letter that there not enough male main cast pony on MLP.
 

faefrost

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Nimzabaat said:
From what I recall; City Lego has a lot of genderless characters and a lot of the licensed product (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings, The Lone Ranger) is restricted to characters seen on screen (though SWTOR Lego has some female characters). On the other hand, Lego Marvel and DC aren't doing a lot to bring in female characters from those properties. The Lego Marvel sets that aren't tied into the movies don't have any female characters in them and there's a lot to choose from.
That's not unique to Lego, Any toy maker will tell you that for the most part the female Superhero's don't sell as well. At least not in the target age groups. Lego has made vast efforts to improve things in recent years. Their City line has a wide array of female minifigs these days. The Collectable Blind Bag minifigs tend to be somewhere between 50-50 and 60-40 splits M to F. And they are up to 12 or 13 series of 16 each of those.

The "Action" Themes like Ninjago are still very much sausage fests. But those really are targeting into that 7-11 year old boy market that really does not like playing with girls in any way shape or form.

As far as their licensed stuff? Star Wars really has not had a broad cast of female characters until very recently. In the 6 movies you essentially have Leia and Padme. Both have been well represented in Lego form. The newer Clone Wars cartoon gave Lego a lot more to work with and there is a vast army of female Jedi and such these days. The Middle Earth Stuff? Tolkien's books were like a San Francisco nightclub on Margharita Tuesday. Nary a female presence in sight. Heck in the Hobbit book there are no named female characters (the movies tacked on the new female elf. She appears in Lego form). There are really only 3 women in the Lord of the Rings. One has been made as a fig. One is known to be in a summer release set, and the entire fan base has been screaming at Lego's lack of the third. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? 2 female characters. April O'Neil and Karai. Both have appeared or are appearing in multiple sets. Pirates of the Caribbean? 3 named female characters. Two have appeared. (The exclusion of Zoe Saldana is a deep omission.) Harry Potter had pretty much every major female character in minifig form. Some a few too many times. Hermione, Ginny, Luna, Prof's Mcgonagle, Sprout, Trelawny, Hooch, Delores Umbridge, Belatrix LeStrange, and Malfoy's Mother, Ron's Mother, Snape dressed as Neville's Grandmother, have all been made as minifigs. So if the sourse material is there, they have no issues making female figs.

The main issue is this letter, much like the recent "letter from a real scientist" on the subject, not to mention Anita Sarkeesian's similar older presentation on the subject, seem to be applying today's standards to products from 10-20 years ago. Stuff that they (or in this girls case her parents) remember from growing up. This is further compounded by the feeling that Lego is sold in the "boys aisle" while the "special Lego for Girls" is sold over in the "Girls aisle". And following the color coding rather than simply looking at what is on or in the box. This is not to say that Lego is perfect. The lower priced and impulse minifig type sets do still tend to be much more heavily weighted towards boys, with the exception of the blind bag collectible minifigs. But it is yet another example of a societal solution in search of a problem.